By George Munene
At Navina Rabbit Farm, George Kanyingi’s herd of over 400 rabbits is proof that rabbit farming is no child’s play but just as lucrative an agribusiness as any other. What started out as a hobby for his kids is now a lucrative venture that sees him supply rabbit meat to one of Kenya’s leading supermarket chains.
At his farm in Malaa Town along Kangundo Road, George charts his seven-year journey to making a success of rabbit keeping that started out with just two rabbits, all the while casually navigating a rabbit carcass.
“We observed a clear gap in the market and were determined to fill it. As a source of white meat, rabbit meat is far cheaper to fish, it also doesn’t suffer from the religious and cultural constraints associated with pig consumption. Though popular, chicken meat for its part is quite common; rabbit meat offers an alternative that is just as tasty but not as ubiquitous,” he explained.
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Anchoring the success of any profitable agribusiness is a stable market. In an effort to introduce rabbit meat to a wider consumer base, at the business’s onset, he knocked on as many doors as he could, networking with potential buyers.
“Initially, we sold one or two rabbits daily to individuals, but being prolific breeders, by the end of the year, we had close to 200 rabbits. This meant casting an even wider net for potential consumers,“ Kanyingi said.
Five years on, thanks to the many contacts he had made along the way and his visibility, he was able to win a contract supplying 70 rabbits weekly to a major retail outlet.
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About 90 per cent of his herd is sold to farmers as breeding stock, meaning he is always seeking out other rabbit farmers to help him meet his orders. He buys rabbits weighing a minimum of two kilograms at Sh225/kilogram live weight.
For Kanyingi, rabbit rearing is full-time employment, deserving absolute dedication. Over the years he has worked to breed hardy, fast-maturing rabbits. “Most of my rabbits achieve slaughter weight (two kilograms) in just three months–this is a rarity for Kenyan rabbits which are often bastardized–I cannot breed them first enough as the demand is always rising with farmers looking to establish their own rabbitries,” he said.